Spirituality for young people is just as important and relevant as it is with any other age group. Starting young however, has the added advantage of being able to establish an early focus that can become a transformative lifelong pursuit. Unfortunately, spirituality doesn’t usually get enough attention by the youth.
Most young people in their teens and twenties are busy making friends and enjoying with them, learning and following popular trends and news, or pursuing studies and careers.
The truth is, unless there is a reason for spirituality, most of us don’t seek it out, no matter how old we are. We are simply too busy with our everyday life and preoccupations.
What is spirituality? Spirituality is a pursuit that connects you to your soul, your true nature.
You can pursue that connection through spiritual studies, practices, and disciplines that help you identify with your soul essence that is often forgotten amidst the busyness of life.
Read on to understand the importance of spirituality for young people.
Why spirituality for young people?
1. Calms down the mental chatter and brings a deeper connection to the heart’s guidance.
Today’s young people are subject to many outer and inner pressures to be, think and do things in certain ways. Their minds are filled with fears, worries, regrets, anxieties, excitements and plans.
Taking on a spiritual practice that will help to calm the mental chatter and tune inwards to the heart’s guidance is important. To achieve this, the breath is an effective tool.
Here’s an example of a simple spiritual practice:
Sit upright in a chair, gently close your eyes and keep your body relaxed and very still. When the body is kept still, the mind gradually becomes quieter.
Next, begin by bringing your attention to your breathing. Don’t do anything to change it. Just watch it.
As you observe your breathing, you will find that you will naturally want to slow it down.
Now start taking slow deep breaths, mentally watching the incoming and outgoing breaths.
When your mind starts wandering, gently bring your attention back to your breath and still body. Keep repeating this every time the mind wanders. Stay focused and try to increase the depth of your silence.
When you start to fatigue, open your eyes and end the practice.
This technique goes a long way to quieting the thoughts of the mind and releasing stress. As the mind becomes quiet and peaceful, it becomes easier to tune into the heart for the guidance of the soul. Listen to this guided visualisation to tune in to your heart.
2. Higher goals and priorities are brought into a clearer focus.
Taking the time to tune into the guidance of the heart brings clear insight that helps us realign with our priorities and goals.
This is what educator and author Stephen Covey calls, ‘sharpening the saw’.
In his book, The 7 habits of highly effective people, Covey tells the story of a woodcutter who is so busy cutting down trees that he says he has no time to sharpen his saw. He doesn’t realize that by not taking time out to sharpen his saw, he’s taking longer to cut down the trees. He’s losing efficiency and defeating his purpose.
Similarly, with the innumerable distractions that the young people of today are subject to, a spiritual practice helps to re-focus, reenergize and ‘sharpen the saw’.
There is a spiritual practice that will achieve this:
Take about 20 minutes every day to sit alone in silence and watch the thoughts. There should be no other activity or distractions.
In this practice, you allow the thoughts to come up and simply become aware of them. This helps you process your experiences and gives you an idea what your mind is made of. You look within and review your day’s interactions with others and judge the motives behind your words and actions.
The instructions may be simple, but not always easy to carry out. It’s hard to come face to face with the truth. But this practice has the potential to literally change your life. Read how a young man transformed his life through this simple habit.
3. Nurtures positive qualities of character
When the mind is calmer and the guidance of the heart is followed along with daily introspection, a person begins to live life with greater self-awareness.
This new awareness naturally leads to a desire to be a better person and live more in alignment with what is good and right.
Personality flaws start to become apparent and a desire to nurture positive qualities of character arise from within. These qualities could be being kind, humble, compassionate, generous, patient, forgiving and more accepting of others’ shortcomings.
Having a spiritual focus early in life positively changes one’s character. It’s easy to see why spirituality for young people is important.
4. Cultivates a positive self-image and state of mind
Our sense of well-being no longer depends on how others see us, but how we see ourselves.
We start to take responsibility for our own happiness and mental state.
Moodiness, anxiety or depression may come into the mind, but these states don’t overpower someone with a healthy, positive mind. A deeper inner connection along with a positive outlook ensures this.
5. Improves relationships
As we improve ourselves and the quality of our mind, we become sincerely friendly and good natured. We start to attract similar people in our life.
Having a spiritual understanding of life helps us appreciate that each of us is a soul with lessons to fulfil in this lifetime. Through our relationships we learn and grow.
We avoid harsh judgements and unrealistic expectations—two guaranteed relationship spoilers.
A healthy mindset and an understanding of the higher purpose of relationships help to forge happy connections with people around.
6. Builds inner strength and resilience to meet the challenges of life.
Having a spiritual practice along with taking up some spiritual study brings a better understanding of the higher purpose of life. Difficulties are seen as opportunities for inner growth.
Spirituality doesn’t change outer circumstances, but it does change a person’s ability to meet life. It builds inner strength and the resilience to meet the challenges of life.
7. Gain greater success, both outer and inner.
Spirituality gives life a higher meaning and purpose. Success doesn’t lie in outer accomplishments. Money, fame and power are no success at all if one doesn’t have peace of mind, good health and happy relationships with family and friends.
Inner character transformation becomes the measure of success in life.
We ask ourselves, How well was I able to remain calm in the midst of that crisis? How can I prevent being impatient or annoyed with someone? How well have I done with being kinder, more giving and loving?
These personal reflections become the yardsticks to measuring success.
Like actors in life
Spirituality reminds us that right now, we are like actors who have been playing our personality roles so well and completely that we have forgotten our real identity.
We identify with the body and mind and take ourselves to be a particular name, age, and gender. We identify with our everyday roles and accomplishments.
But this is our personality, our temporary identity, and not our real identity.
Our real identity is something totally different. It is the silent inner observer of all the experiences of our lives.
When we die, the personality associated with the dead body fades away as a mere memory. But the inner observer, the real Self continues to live even afterwards.
We need some time to ‘get off the stage’, remove the costume and tune inwards. Having a spiritual practice helps us do that.
Whether it’s spirituality for young people or older, it is clear that we must start living and practicing it now.
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